The boy, now weeks away from turning 3 (please send help, incidentally), has recently decided that he no longer requires solid food as part of his daily intake. It's just not necessary when the freezer has popsicles to offer, and the pantry includes a giant barrel of lollipops. I've been getting a lot of , "Eww..dat's gose," or "I no yike dat" when I offer things like peanut butter or apples or rice. Which are all things that he normally asks for.
It's been a challenge to say the least. This morning has been particularly brutal as he shot down every one of my suggestions for "dinner," which is what he calls any time of day that he is feeling hungry. (Not going to lie; this is adorable.) Finally, I suggested French toast, along with the promise of syrup. Maple syrup quickly turns things from questionable to reasonable, apparently, and so I got out my pan and got cooking.
Meanwhile, the girl, now 5 and fast approaching 14, decided that yes, she would also like some French toast. But wait...what was French toast again? Is French toast like a flapjack? Oh...you put maple syrup on it? Then yes, I will definitely have some.
Cut to me, in the kitchen, a hot pan getting hotter, sizzling with butter. I am dipping bread into my mixture of eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg. FRESH GRATED NUTMEG. Things are smelling delicious. I am pleased.
The boy walks into the kitchen.
"What dat? Where da syrup?"
"Well, this is the French toast, and it's cooking. When it's done I'll put the syrup on it."
"I can see it?"
"Sure." I hoist him up, and he inspects the pan.
"What dat brown stuff?"
"That's..." (Be careful here, woman. One whiff of sketchy terminology and he will not want to eat the toast. You're getting him to eat eggs right now. Bread. GRAINS.) "That's the cooked side of the French toast. It gets brown when it's cooked, just like regular toast, you know?"
He runs into the family room and I heave a sigh of relief. I place one piece of toast on each plate, coat generously with maple syrup (the real deal, in case you are wondering. DON'T MESS WITH IMITATION SYRUP FOR THE LOVE.), and cut into small squares. I pour milk into each of their Muppets in Space Welch's jelly jars, making sure that the girl gets a pink straw, and the boy a blue one (you have no idea of the sensitivities regarding straws and their colors in this house). I serve them their lunch.
"I don't like this. I want a waffle instead."
I hold my breath, hoping that the boy is ignoring the comments of the girl. He seems to be eating it. BUT DON'T COUNT THIS AS SUCCESS YET, because now the girl needs to be dealt with.
"Why don't you like it? You always eat French toast when I make it."
"No. I don't like it. And I don't like this milk. It tastes like swimming water."
(That's the sound that I make when I am meditating, obvs.)
It's not like this every day, but it's like this a lot of the time. I used to lose my mind over it, but then I realized that there isn't a point to making myself rage about it. I made some French toast, and in the end, I was the one that ate it. The boy got through a few bites and then wandered off to practice using his scissors. The girl got her freezer waffle (and drank half of that milk, by the way. The same milk that we always buy, that she drinks every single day, that for some reason tasted weird at that moment. As happens.).
This is pretty much what this job comes down to. It's a lot of taking a breath and enjoying the moment that the kitchen is spotless, only to walk into another room to find permanent marker artwork on your couch, or that someone has peed all over your bathroom floor, and trying your best not to freak out about it. Does this sound familiar? Here's the thing.
You are not alone. I am here with you, sitting next to a near-3-year-old boy who just asked me, "Can I have something for dinner?"